The Chivas Regal Elephant Polo team from Scotland are the new World Champions following their success in the final held on Friday 3rd December at the 23rd World Elephant Polo Championships hosted by the Tiger Mountain.
Group. Chivas Regal Scotland, captained by His Grace the Duke of Argyll clinched the coveted Tiger Tops WEPA Trophy by beating the National Parks team from Nepal, captained by Ram Pritt Yadav, by 12 goals to 6. The local team despite having several strong, experienced elephant polo players just could not compete with new comer to the sport David Bernal, an Argentinean 5 goal horse polo player, who lead his team to their second world title. However the local heroes did not leave the tournament empty handed as they were successful in the Tiger Mountain All Nepal Challenge, a very entertaining match which is played by mahouts on their own elephants, comprehensively beating the Tiger Tops team. Much to the delight of the thousands of locals who had traveled great distances to support their favorite polo team Chandra Tamang, from the National Parks, was also presented with the Chivas Regal Player of the Tournament Award for his consistently good play through out the week.
This year Chivas Regal fielded a second team, captained by Jim Long, who managed 3rd place after beating the defending World Champions, Tiger Tops.
Tuskers from Nepal, captained by Kristjan Edwards, Managing Director of the Tiger Mountain Group, by 6 goals to 5 in the 3rd/4th playoff.
The final was the culmination of a fascinating week's polo which saw Chivas Regal Scotland beat Chivas Regal Thailand in the first semi final, 10 to 4, with David Bernal demonstrating his brilliant dribbling ability and pushing the Scottish team to favourites to take the World Crown. In the second semi final, which was the equivalent of the local derby, National Parks beat Tiger Tops Tuskers by 9 goals to 8. This was probably one of the best matches of the tournament with two of last year's heroes, Matt Idiens and Stine Heiselberg putting in gritty performances for the Tuskers but unfortunately this time they were unable to pull a last minute win out of the bag.
In line with the two-league system at WEPA, the remaining four teams competed for the Chivas Regal WEPA Olympic Quaich. This Cup was won 8 goals to 5 by the Araveli Polo team from India , captained by Karan Thapar, in an exciting final against the International Trust for Nature Conservation (ITNC) team, captained by Dhan Bahadur Tamang. Going into the final the ITNC team, consisting of four novice players, were certainly the underdogs as David's brother Gonzalo was playing for Araveli but even with support from the local crowd they were unable to contain the flamboyant Argentinean. For his efforts ITNC player, Wilbur "Smith" Wilson, was awarded the Chivas Regal Golden Moment for his strong "round house" hit in from the back line which showed masses of potential for a novice polo player. Dom's Dragon's from Hong Kong, captained by Carolyn Syangbo finished joint 3rd in the Quaich with the International Tigresses, captained by Celia Temple, who without a few of their key players had a disappointing Championships.
One of the highlights of this year's Championships was the Entente Cordiale Visitors Challenge in which the English team captained by HE British Ambassador Keith Bloomfield beat an international team captained by HE French Ambassador Michel Jolivet by 2 goals to 1. This fun match was followed by an entertaining Entente Cordiale evening with singing, sword dancing and stand up comedy routines led by their Excellencies.
The World Elephant Polo Championship is an annual invitational event arranged by Tiger Mountain and run under the auspices of the World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA). It is played on the polo field adjacent to Meghauly airport on the edge of Royal Chitwan National Park . Each game consists of two 10 minute chukkas using elongated sticks often over two meters in length and a regular polo ball. As in previous years, through generous donations from the players and several charity events during the tournament, WEPA raised much-needed funds for the local Meghauly Clinic and the Tiger Tops Swiss Air funded local pre-school.